HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc907-8
8. Mr. Dean

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will now state his plans for overcoming the shortage of operating theatre nurses.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Julian Snow)

I have nothing to add at present to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) on the 18th November.—[Vol. 773, c. 211.]

Mr. Dean

Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that that is an exact carbon copy of his Answer to a similar Question on 2nd December? Does he realise that about three-quarters of the theatre nurses are on call outside their duty hours, when they are supposed to be resting? Is not this an intolerable situation, in view of the strain and responsibility involved in current operations?

Mr. Snow

Yes, but the hon. Member will recall that in my earlier Answer to his hon. Friend I said that this matter was being examined by the appropriate committee. I can now say that the report should be available about mid-1969. That is not so very far ahead. I would add that we fully take into account the fact that the work load has increased as a result of improvements in treatment and operations. We must take that fact into account, along with the fact that we now have more nurses in post than ever before.

Mr. Bidwell

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that Commonwealth immigrants Who enter this country for other employment and become qualified to take such nursing posts will have no impediment put in their way, nothwith-standing the recent speech by the Leader of the Opposition this weekend requiring certification authority for a change of employment? Will he give an assurance that people will not be hounded in this way?

Mr. Snow

I can give an unqualified assurance on that point. It should be remembered that many of these immigrant nurses who have now achieved improved qualifications in this country were brought here under the auspices—in terms of the Ministry concerned—of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell).